According to a recent Forbes article, the CDO/CDAO role (Chief Data Officer/Chief Data Analytics Officer) has become a “bellwether” of growth in data-driven organizations. A recent NewVantage Partners survey found that 65% of large, data-centric companies have appointed a CDO—up from just 12% in 2012. As more organizations recognize that data is a critical corporate asset worthy of executive attention, the prevalence of analytics officers will undoubtedly increase. 

As this happens, many companies will likely promote from within and appoint data science professionals to these roles. However, because it takes more than just technical prowess and methodological expertise to be successful, would-be data leaders should be cognizant of some key considerations: 

1. Bringing Value to the Business 

One of the most critical ways data scientists can distinguish themselves is by identifying how their work can add business value. This entails looking beyond just the technical execution of a project to the bigger picture. Then finding the right way to demonstrate the benefits of the initiative to non-technical stakeholders.

2. Focusing on More Than Just the Data

Particularly for a data science professional who has spent years pursuing data exploration, it can be tempting to allocate significant time and resources to building interesting data models. The challenge arises if these models do little to drive the business forward. If a data scientist hopes to ascend to the CDO role, they must focus on more than data alone.

3. Develop Leadership Skills 

It’s also critical that would-be CDOs have good communication skills. They must be able to articulate analytical value to other stakeholders throughout the business. In addition, they need to have strong leadership abilities, know how to manage people and teams, and be able to set and achieve business goals. Finally, CDOs must be good collaborators and able to partner with others in the C-Suite to develop and execute business strategies. 

For more on what CDOs should do to hone their leadership abilities, take a look at this previous APEX of Innovation post

Of course, there are many formally trained data scientists who don’t have their sights set on the CDO role. But for those who harbor executive aspirations, following the steps outlined above can help differentiate yourself in a competitive market.